Tuesday, October 21, 2008

thanksgiving traditions

I figure if we can all start celebrating Christmas in July, then starting to think about Thanksgiving in October is not so bad. For whatever reason, Thanksgiving seems to bring out the odd in our family gatherings. We get together for other events - graduations, Christmas, birthdays and the like - but Thanksgiving has some fairly distinct absurd memories attached to it.

For example, one year we discovered that my brother's saxaphone playing had an hypnotic effect on the cows in the field. I believe he was playing "Dixie" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" or something along those lines (if those are even similar lines to begin with). Every time he started, the entire herd did an about-face and strolled along to the fence where he was playing. They'd bunch up in front of him, chewing their cud and enjoying the tunes. When he stopped for any prolonged amount of time, they turned around to disperse. Of course, he let them get distracted elsewhere before he'd start puffin' on the horn again, and they'd all come troopin' along. This provided at least a good half hour of entertainment for us suburbanites.

Other entertainment included a small go-cart. Now, being suburbanites, we don't have an excessive amount of room in our yard for wild go-cart rides (when we went sledding, there was actually an incident where my sister ran out of yard and slid into the bumper of our neighbor's parked car - so, limited space). The opportunity to cram into a tiny little motorized cart and drive in circles around the house just had us delirious - even when we were way too big to squeeze a big ol' tush in the driver seat. Actually, in my family's case, our legs grew too long. I have a picture in the go-cart and my knees are almost past my head in an attempt to bend them to fit into the car. Nevertheless, we continued to go-kart until we ran it into the ground. I'm not sure who actually killed the go-cart, but given my propensity to break stuff, I wouldn't completely deny culpability.

Another incident begged for someone to assume blame, and in a show of cousin solidarity, we all claimed responsibility. The crime: hijakcing the pies. What else is there to do at the kiddie table? I regret to inform you that we were all in our teens at this point, so assuming that this was an innocent jack horner sticking a cute pudgy finger in a pie with a mischiveous grin would be inaccurate. In fact, we were gangly, always-hungry, sweet-toothed young adults relegated to a room where we were largely unsupervised and unoccupied after the first five minutes of eating were over. We concocted a plan to steal the pies. Forgetting we were long and gangly we attempted to nonchalantly walk past the adult table, grab a pie and covertly make our way back to the kiddie table. I think one of us made it to the kitchen and might have made it back if it wasn't for the rest of the not-discreet cousins hootin' and hollerin' in the hallway. Sometimes, it's best not to cheer someone on to victory. Pie theft at Thanksgiving is such an occasion.

And then there are the stories associated with just the process of getting to the farm. Truly the absurdity starts earlier and earlier in the journey every year. Granted, we brought it on ourselves when we were each given the opportunity, in order to earn hours towards a drivers permit, to drive a portion of the final distance to my grandparent's farm. I recall swerving multiple times. I think because I thought I was cool enough to handle tossing back a bag of chips while I was driving a two-lane country road (so essentially, the only thing I could see was the silver foil of a chip bag and the driver coming towards me could only see an upside-down bag of "lays" where a head should have been for a driver). Glad I didn't kill anyone. My middle sister almost ran us into a pole. It didn't help that she really doesn't appreciate the constant stream of harassment and anxiety that we siblings tend to dump on one another. Still, the pole just kept getting closer and closer and she was not terribly concerned about avoiding it. We were all being very helpful with our yelling and directing. Right now, I'm thankful I'm alive.

Finally, there was the time when the seat belt tried to eat me. I've since had seat belts in other cars try this so I'm a bit concerned for my safety (not enough not to wear one mind you!). In any case, we had stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank and to find some munchies to hold us over until Thanksgiving dinner (let me reiterate that we were growing young-adults and when my youngest sister's big toe gets empty, it means she needs food or she gets cranky. We don't mess around with her big toe). I tried to get out, the seat belt tightened. I leaned back, the seatbelt tightened. Eventually, everyone was in the car or around the car trying to figure out what was going on and how to get me out. Given that I was laughing, and therefore clearly not dying, everyone else felt free to laugh as well. That's just how we do. Rebecca gets stuck, everyone laughs. It's sweet really.


  1. Re: the cows.

    As I recall, we established that these were actually Yankee import cattle (Pop pop being a yankee transplant). The two tunes I played were in fact The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Dixie, but they actually came together for the Battle Hymn and dispersed when I started playing Dixie (Why was that in a 6th grade band book?). To prove it was no fluke, they came back when the Battle Hymn started again. "The Melodiously Discerning Carpetbagging Cattle of Brunswick County"

    Sarah almost running into the pole was definitely a good one too.

  2. Rebecca, If you didn't have an infectious laugh it wouldn't have been so funny. Actually I'm glad you all have learned to laugh at whatever life brings you. Actually I'm still laughing after reading this.